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Bring A Vintage Radio To Life With Bluetooth

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals, Multimedia

I came up with a fun use for a rechargeable Bluetooth speaker.

I love the look of old radios and old radio cabinets. Sadly, most of them are non-functional. And while I love antiques, I only like them if they’re still functional. So, while looking at a display of non-functioning radios at the Maumee Antique Mall, I got an idea. What if you could repurpose a beautiful exterior by giving it a modern interior?
As a tech writer, I’m familiar with the many Bluetooth devices on the market that can stream music from your phone, PC or tablet. Could I give a beautiful old body a new brain?
I chose this beauty from 1950. The price for this non-working classic: $20.
I took off the back screws, removed the back and loosed all the screws necessary to remove the non-working guts.
It was just a bit dusty inside.
After a quick clean-up, I got to work. Since removing the interior screws caused the knobs to come off, I glued them back on.
 I was also pleased to find the little red dial pointer inside the radio where it had fallen. I slipped it back on the original guide wire and replaced it inside the radio. For the interior speaker, I chose a rechargeable Bluetooth model. It was quite small and able to sync with either my phone, tablet, PC or a Bluetooth-enabled music player to play whatever songs I like. As a bonus, this speaker had lights you could set to move in time to the music.
I used sticky-backed Velcro to affix the speaker to the interior floor of the radio and also placed somewhere the holes for the screws were on the back of the radio.
  I wanted the back to be easily removable in case I needed to access the speaker. Since the original cardboard cover was somewhat damaged, my husband traced an outline of it on a piece of cardboard. We cut out our new back and added Velcro the back. We lined it up with the Velcro on the screw holes.  I affixed the remnants of the original back to the cardboard with glue.
After giving everything time to dry, I put on the back. I ran the charging cord for the speaker out the original hole for the electric cord. I also made sure to turn the on/off button for the speaker towards that space for easy access.
I paired the speaker with my phone. All I have to do to use it is reach around and flip on the speaker and start playing music. I can either choose to leave it plugged in with the USB charger or move it anywhere I want. Since I picked a speaker that lights up in time to the music, it looks especially nice at night.  The sound is great. My favorite thing to play on it is swing music and old radio programs.
~ Cynthia

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7 Responses to “Bring A Vintage Radio To Life With Bluetooth”

  1. Jadesqr says:

    Oh! Cynthia, Everybody knows antique’s loose 50% of their value when you remove the ‘patina’… Just maybe NOT in this case.

    Next; let’s see a 50’s ‘Console TV’ with an LCD and a ‘Latte Machine’…Hum mm!

  2. KD says:

    Many years ago my daughter had to “throw away” one of the old cabinet model black and white TVs (the TV no longer worked and it was time for color). The cabinet was beautiful cherry wood with doors that closed to hide the TV. I removed the TV and added a pull-out shelf plus several drawers and ended up with a great fly-tying cabinet that looked just like a good piece of furniture that could be placed almost anywhere.

  3. jujen says:

    How wonderful it is when a human mind can bring old things alive again.
    Love, love it.
    The mind is a God given miracle.

  4. William Seward says:

    Nice tip. I grew up repairing these sorts of radios. I like your basic idea. I think I might have gone a bit farther and kept the metal chassis inside only removing the original speaker and whatever else needed removing to make room for the new speaker. Thus, you could have a channel selector pointer that “seemed” to work and volume control that turned. A step further and you could wire in the volume control and switch to control the new speaker from the front. Then another simple mod to make the clock and clock light work. Perhaps by replacing the clockworks with a battery powered one. Most of us have clocks out the wazoo, but twould be nice to see that clock light up and the second hand sweeping around! Not to take away from your project, it’s a cool idea with many layers of possibility. Good job!

  5. Kim j says:

    I too love the vintage old things and love to use them if I can. Now I have to go rummaging with a purpose!! Thanks

  6. Keith Monson says:

    She didn’t mention if the clock still worked and to quote a movie, “It would sure be cool if it did”. I wish people would stop using the word “guts” to mean the internal workings of something electronic. If the B/T speaker she had put in had an audio output jack I bet that old speaker (if it wasn’t damaged) would sound better than the bluetooth speaker itself. I am in the process of making a “communicator” badge for my “Alexa”. I tried just the electronic circuit which I took out of a greeting card (notice I didn’t say “guts”). It wasn’t loud enough so I thought about an amp but that would make the thing heavy, so I am going with a bluetooth transmitter. I am going to share the build online when I get the B/T transmitter and the rest of the guts 😉

  7. Chris says:

    I miss those old TV consoles……..they were nice for putting things on top like decorations, etc. You can’t do anything with these ugly flat-screen TVs.
    I also miss good-sized boom boxes, and good-sized all-in-one stereos with record players and decent-sized speakers. Technology sucks in some ways.

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